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How to combat the tech talent shortage

Finding a candidate with the right combination of skills to meet modern enterprise needs is no mean feat. In this tweet jam recap, get tips on how to develop a hiring strategy that can tackle today's tech talent shortage.

Today's enterprise IT departments face a towering challenge: They must keep up with rapid innovations in cloud, social networking, mobile and big data, while at the same time meet the rising demands of the customers at their center. Add to the mix always-looming security threats and the growing need for IT to align with business partners, and you've got the recipe for CIOs and IT teams that are stretched too thin to handle it all without hunting for new talent.

With that reality, it's no surprise that many of these companies have already been expanding their IT departments in the past few years: Between 2000 and 2010, IT employment grew by 86%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But while this continued expansion is good news for IT professionals, it spells another quandary for the companies doing the hiring: a very real tech talent shortage.

Is your IT hiring strategy up to snuff? If not, what exactly should such a strategy entail? We invited #CIOChat participants to weigh in during the latest SearchCIO tweet jam, in which IT hiring consultant Shawn Banerji of Russell Reynolds Associates shared his expertise.

What specific IT skills and experts are companies recruiting for?

In the "Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Forecast and Local Trend Report," a 2013 survey of U.S. CIOs, about 63% of executives who responded found it somewhat or very challenging to find certain skilled IT talent, including in the areas of networking, security and more. We asked what other skills are at a premium; data analytics and development made an appearance:

Patrick Gilmore, CTO of Markley Group, remarked at the recent MIT Sloan CIO Symposium that once your customer's data is stolen, your business is done for. Ben Cole, site editor of SearchCompliance, agrees, pointing out that security is a particularly prioritized skill in light of the recent spate of high-profile security snafus:

What should an IT hiring process involve?

While technical know-how is very much still a requisite when sourcing for new talent, IT professionals with soft skills such as problem solving and adaptability -- the "creative types," as SearchCIO Senior News Writer Nicole Laskowski put it -- are harder to come by. There's also the consideration of whether a candidate is a cultural fit, which is key to employee retention:

One way to find "creative thinkers" is to seek out problem solvers, according to Anne Margulies, CIO for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: "I look for people who are curious, who will take a risk and take a foot off of first base and who will push hard and try to understand root causes or solve problems by asking hard questions," she told SearchCIO. In addition to the hands-on training, the ability to ask the right questions is crucial to understanding today's systems, as Cole points out:

What challenges do CIOs face in filling the tech talent gap?

At the end of the day, even if you've scouted the aforementioned soft skills, it comes down to filling the technical skills your company needs, and fast:

One way companies can tackle tech talent recruitment, according to participant Brian Fanzo, is by instilling and fostering adaptability and leadership in IT managers themselves:

What top skills do you seek when hiring IT talent? Let us know in the comments section below.

This tweet recap is part of our #CIOChat on tech talent recruitment, hosted by SearchCIO. For more recaps or to get information about our next tweet jam, follow @SearchCIO on Twitter.


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